As June is family reunification month, we are proud to highlight the work of the Dr. Monica Faulkner and the team at the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing. A licensed social worker, Dr. Faulkner has worked as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and as a case manager for children in foster care. She also worked in the Texas Legislature focusing on policy issues related to health and human services for two legislative sessions.

TXICFW was co-founded by Dr. Faulkner approximately ten years ago and has been steadily growing in staff size as well as project scope. Currently, the TXICFW team of 17 staff focuses on eight topics: foster care, adolescent sexual health, childcare, social work practices in healthcare, child maltreatment prevention, adoption & permanency, Latino immigrant families and social work practices in schools. The passion of TXICFW has been and continues to be program evaluation- and with all practitioners on the team having direct-care practice experience, the team has the knowledge and expertise to ensure their research and evaluations can be utilized by those working directly with children, youth, and families.

TXICFW is currently working on a myriad of projects centering on research, program evaluation, training and development, and curriculum development. Dr. Faulkner noted that her team continues working with various nonprofit organizations assisting in program evaluation on projects large and small and understands the necessity of understanding the effectiveness of a program to obtain federal, state, and philanthropic funding. She noted with the future implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) in Texas, the need to understand evidence-based practices and programs and the relation to program effectiveness may only become more important. 

TACFS is proud to have and continue to partner with TXICFW on several projects and initiatives, but a highlight of our partnership is around collaboration on the Texas Permanency Outcomes Project (TXPOP). This is a 5-year federal grant with the goal of promoting birth family engagement in the foster care system and ensuring children in care maintain meaningful relationships with their families, regardless of permanency outcome.  Dr. Faulkner notes that this project was created and developed through a social justice perspective – to change the way our state’s child welfare system and communities view families whose child(ren) was placed in foster care. She is enthusiastic about the hope of changing the narrative of the child welfare system through TXPOP so that birth families are viewed as allies in the foster care process in Texas, resulting in enhanced wellbeing for children in care and increased support for not only the foster family but birth family as well. A major goal of this project is improved permanency outcomes for children in the foster care system- and a hope that more children and youth in Texas’ foster care system return home with their families, and that this occurs in a shorter timeframe.